Promise PrEP

Research team

PROMISE is a collaboration between the University of Antwerp (Department Sociology, Centre for Population, Family and Health) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Sexual & Reproductive Health Group).


Marie Laga (MD, MSc Epidemiology and PhD) conducts research on HIV and other STIs since the early eighties, in the areas of  sexual transmission, prevention programs for vulnerable groups such as female sex workers, youth and MSM , and linkages of sexual and reproductive health.

Marie Laga has become a leading expert in HIV prevention, advocating for intensifying HIV prevention worldwide. 


Marie is the promoter of PROMISE.

Bea Vuylsteke is an epidemiologist (PhD) with a medical background.

Bea works on HIV prevention methods, including PrEP, among populations with an increased risk for HIV (sex workers, men who have sex with men) in Europe and low-income countries, mainly in West Africa.


Bea is the scientific coordinator of PROMISE

Christiana Nöstlinger is a health psychologist and behavioral scientist.

Her areas of expertise include sexual health behavior and its contextual components, as well as the systematic development of health promotion interventions for key affected populations such as young people, men having sex with men, and migrants.


Christiana is the supervisor of WP2.

Thijs Reyniers is a sociologist with a PhD in health sciences.

As a FWO postdoctoral researcher Thijs mainly works in the domain of HIV prevention and sexual health. His research is mainly focused on the implementation of PrEP in Belgium and West Africa, in particular on the perspective of users and care providers, cultural and social aspects of health and healthcare and mixed methods.


Thijs is the supervisor of WP3 and 4.

Jef Vanhamel was trained as a medical doctor at KU Leuven and received a postgraduate diploma in Tropical Medicine and International Health at ITM.

Jef works as a junior researcher on the PROMISE project, mainly within work package 4: “PrEP care options”. He is mainly interested in how the position of PrEP within the Belgian health system could be optimized.


Jef works as the junior researcher for WP4.

Anke Rotsaert has a background in pharmaceutical sciences and has recently received her Master’s degree in public health at ITM.

Anke has worked in low-and middle income countries for Doctors without Borders and is now working on HIV prevention, with a particular focus on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).


Anke is junior researcher for WP3.

Ella Van Landeghem is trained as a sociologist and completed a MSc in Health Promotion as well. Her main research focus is on the health of vulnerable migrant groups.

Ella is currently working as a junior researcher at ITM, more specifically on PrEP uptake and use among people with a migrant background in Belgium.


Ella works as the junior researcher for WP2.

Thibaut Vanbaelen is a general practitioner by training and later obtained a certificate ‘Tropical Medicine and International Health Care’ at ITM. He has worked in the STD clinic and travel clinic of the CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels.

Thibaut is now working as a junior researcher with a focus on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and sexually transmitted diseases.


Thibaut works as junior researcher for WP3.

Heleen Van Mieghem is a general practitioner and graduated in ‘International Health Care and Tropical Medicine’ at ITM and later at the Dutch Training Institute IGT. For years she worked as a doctor in various hospitals in Africa. Back in Belgium, she started working for Violett, a non-profit organisation that provides medical assistance to sex workers.


As a junior researcher for PROMISE, Heleen will focus on PrEP for the specific target group of sex workers.

Greet Segers has a background in humanities and social sciences (MA African Studies, MA Conflict & Development, MA International Relations & Diplomacy) and has worked 3 years for a Belgian medical ngo.

Greet  is responsable for PROMISE’s day-to-day projectmanagement and for the contact and collaboration with our valorisation partners. 


Greet is the project and valorisation manager of PROMISE.


Edwin Wouters is a medical sociologist (PhD) and professor at the University of Antwerp, with a local and international research focus on the social aspects of health.

Specific research interests are HIV, tuberculosis, chronic diseases, sexual and mental health.


Edwin is the co-promoter of PROMISE and in charge of WP1.

Caroline Masquillier (PhD) works as a FWO postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp.

Her research focuses on the social aspects of the HIV epidemic in South Africa, children with a disability in Uganda and PrEP use by men who have sex with men (MSM) in Belgium.


Caroline works as researcher for WP1 and is mainly focused on the qualitative part.

Veerle Buffel is a health sociologist and works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp.

Methodologically Veerle has mainly expertise in quantitative research methods and on the theoretical side her interests lie mainly in sexual and mental health, care and medicine use, medicalisation, health economics and primary care.


Veerle is also a researcher for WP1 and works on the quantitative part of the research.

Estrelle Thunnissen is a cultural sociologist (PhD student at the University of Antwerp) with a research focus on sexual culture and gender.

Current research interests are the Flemish nightlife culture of men who have sex with men (MSM) and the process of signification of sex and prevention. For PROMISE Estrelle analyses the impact of PrEP on sex of MSM.


Estrelle is the junior researcher for WP1 and focuses both on the qualitative and the quantitative part.